Lancashire relegated by hook from Crook

Gloucestershire 311-8 dec Lancashire 311
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The Independent Online


Shortly after 4.30 yesterday, Lancashire's season ended in misery. The fact that this match was barely halfway through at the time is immaterial, because this was the moment that Lancashire were relegated.



Shortly after 4.30 yesterday, Lancashire's season ended in misery. The fact that this match was barely halfway through at the time is immaterial, because this was the moment that Lancashire were relegated.

It came when Gloucestershire claimed the sixth Lancashire wicket and with it, the bonus point they needed to ensure that Lancashire could not draw level with them on points.

And fans of Gloucestershire will forever be able to say that they retained their First Division status by hook and by Crook - because it was a hook by Andy Crook, that brought about the fall, the 23-year-old finding Ian Fisher down on the square-leg boundary.

The fielder did lose his balance momentarily teetering between stepping over the rope, which would have turned the the catch into a six, and claiming the wicket. But luck favoured the West Country side and Crook departed, cutting a miserable figure as he trudged disconsolately back to an even more miserable pavilion.

That dismissal sparked a muted celebration by the Gloucestershire players, who went into a huddle and had a mutual handshake and back-slap. The fall of the wicket also appeared to knock the stuffing out of Lancashire, who had just gained their first batting bonus point. Captain Warren Hegg fell shortly after, edging a defensive push to wicketkeeper Steve Adshead.

And Fisher, like Lancashire's bowling hero Gary Keedy, a Yorkshire-born left-arm spinner, struck again in the same over when he tempted Carl Hooper into trying to hit the ball over long-off. The former West Indies all-rounder succeeded only in slicing the ball over cover where Mike Hussey held a straightforward catch.

Fisher then presented Gloucestershire with their third and final bowling point, simultaneously completing his first five-wicket haul of the summer, when he had Sajid Mahmood taken at slip by Craig Spearman.

Lancashire did salvage a third batting point, in the process matching Gloucestershire's first innings' total, thanks to some belated - and irrelevant - belligerence by Dominic Cork with an unbeaten 70-ball half-century.

It had been a lost cause from mid-afternoon, when four Lancashire batsmen departed in the space of 53 balls, including openers Mark Chilton and Iain Sutcliffe after putting on 87, and key batsmen Stuart Law and Mal Loye.

The Roses rivalry with Yorkshire is renewed after a break of two years. Lancashire are down.

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